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"Collegetown LeaderShape taught me the power of community. We formed a bond that will last for a long time."
Valeria Fuentes
Maryland Institute College of Art
Hometown: Cochabamba, Bolivia

Valeria's Story

“It is discouraging that one in four Baltimore residents live in a food desert. Food is one of the most essential things in life,” says Valeria. “Having access to healthy and affordable food is a need not a privilege.”

When Valeria’s family moved from Bolivia to Baltimore, finding fresh, affordable food was a challenge. Although her mom made it a priority to cook nutritious meals despite their financial situation, Valeria noticed that her friends and their families did not have that same emphasis on proper nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Thankfully there are several programs and resources dedicated to making healthy, affordable food choices available in Baltimore’s food deserts. Valeria believes education will be key to encouraging people to take advantage of these programs rather than relying on the cheap, unhealthy alternatives. Her experience with Baltimore Collegetown LeaderShape inspired her to launch Kinetic Kitchen, an after-school program for elementary and middle school students who attend a school in one of Baltimore’s food deserts.